LACP - NEWS of the Week
on some LACP issues of interest
NEWS of the Week
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles is but a small percentage of the info available to the community policing and neighborhood activist. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We present this simply as a convenience to our readership.
"News of the Week"  

January 2019 - Week 1
Terri Lanahan
Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.

Shocker: Focusing on Criminals Yields Public Safety Results

Anti-gun organizations want you to believe that the next law, the next restriction on gun rights, the next burden for law-abiding gun owners will be the game-changer. Whenever gun control fails – and it always does – the answer is that the effort didn't go far enough. Researchers grasp for an excuse when they find their preferred gun control laws have no effect on crime.

Chicago experienced fewer homicides and fewer shootings in 2018 than in 2017, marking the second consecutive decrease. The city has long been held up as proof that gun control doesn't work. Do two years of declining murder rates indicate that gun control has finally worked?

According to an interview conducted by and run in The Trace, of all places, the answer is no. The Trace interviewed a research director from the Chicago Crime Lab. As the research director acknowledged, crime is “very, very localized, even to certain blocks in certain neighborhoods.” Chicago's recent strategy was to change the policing and management practices in its police districts. Twenty of the twenty-two police districts are now home to Strategic Decision Support Centers, which put crime analysts and police officers in the same room to address problems close to the source. The reporter ends with a question about policies that Illinois lawmakers should consider to address violence, and the research director suggests they focus on education and giving law enforcement the tools necessary to pursue investigations and protect witnesses.

New Orleans is another 2018 success story, having reached a 47-year low in the number of homicides. There were also about 28% fewer non-fatal shootings than in 2017. New Orleans hasn't enacted any so-called “gun control” measures. The city owes this success to police work. From The New Orleans Advocate:

“New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison has said none of that is by accident. He said he tasked a specialized team of tactical officers and detectives with removing repeat violent offenders from the streets over the past two years, no matter how long the cases took to build, and they've delivered results.”

Chicago and New Orleans show that solid police work makes a difference. Community-based efforts, like Operation Ceasefire and others like it, operate as partnerships between law enforcement and community leaders. These programs work to alleviate violence by focusing on those likely to engage in it in the neighborhoods most prone to violence, working to defuse conflict and building a culture that rejects violence.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York recently announced the state will spend more than $3.1 million funding a street outreach program to “curb gun violence and save lives by intervening in the aftermath of shootings to prevent retaliation, working with high-risk youth to connect them to services and programs, and other community engagement initiatives.” The program is led by outreach workers who live and work in dangerous neighborhoods.

From National Network for Safe Communities Director David Kennedy's quote in the press release:

“The developing science of violence prevention shows very clearly that focused attention to the very small number of high-risk groups and individuals at high risk for serious violence can be very effective.”

The common thread between the heads-up police work in Chicago and New Orleans and the community-intervention models in New York and elsewhere is that they are law enforcement solutions focused on dangerous people, namely the criminals.

We're always happy to see efforts to reduce violence focus on the criminals and not law-abiding gun owners.



Inside Facebook's Secret Rulebook for Global Political Speech

Under fire for stirring up distrust and violence, the social network has vowed to police its users. But leaked documents raise serious questions about its approach.

by Max Fisher

In a glass conference room at its California headquarters, Facebook is taking on the bonfires of hate and misinformation it has helped fuel across the world, one post at a time.

The social network has drawn criticism for undermining democracy and for provoking bloodshed in societies small and large.

But for Facebook, it's also a business problem.

The company, which makes about $5 billion in profit per quarter, has to show that it is serious about removing dangerous content. It must also continue to attract more users from more countries and try to keep them on the site longer.

How can Facebook monitor billions of posts per day in over 100 languages, all without disturbing the endless expansion that is core to its business? The company's solution: a network of workers using a maze of PowerPoint slides spelling out what's forbidden.

Every other Tuesday morning, several dozen Facebook employees gather over breakfast to come up with the rules, hashing out what the site's two billion users should be allowed to say. The guidelines that emerge from these meetings are sent out to 7,500-plus moderators around the world. (After publication of this article, Facebook said it had increased that number to around 15,000.)

The closely held rules are extensive, and they make the company a far more powerful arbiter of global speech than has been publicly recognized or acknowledged by the company itself, The New York Times has found.

The Times was provided with more than 1,400 pages from the rulebooks by an employee who said he feared that the company was exercising too much power, with too little oversight — and making too many mistakes.

An examination of the files revealed numerous gaps, biases and outright errors. As Facebook employees grope for the right answers, they have allowed extremist language to flourish in some countries while censoring mainstream speech in others.

Moderators were once told, for example, to remove fund-raising appeals for volcano victims in Indonesia because a co-sponsor of the drive was on Facebook's internal list of banned groups. In Myanmar, a paperwork error allowed a prominent extremist group, accused of fomenting genocide, to stay on the platform for months. In India, moderators were mistakenly told to flag for possible removal comments critical of religion.

The Facebook employees who meet to set the guidelines, mostly young engineers and lawyers, try to distill highly complex issues into simple yes-or-no rules. Then the company outsources much of the actual post-by-post moderation to companies that enlist largely unskilled workers, many hired out of call centers.

Those moderators, at times relying on Google Translate, have mere seconds to recall countless rules and apply them to the hundreds of posts that dash across their screens each day. When is a reference to “jihad,” for example, forbidden? When is a “crying laughter” emoji a warning sign?

Moderators express frustration at rules they say don't always make sense and sometimes require them to leave up posts they fear could lead to violence. “You feel like you killed someone by not acting,” one said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he had signed a nondisclosure agreement.

Facebook executives say they are working diligently to rid the platform of dangerous posts.

“It's not our place to correct people's speech, but we do want to enforce our community standards on our platform,” said Sara Su, a senior engineer on the News Feed. “When you're in our community, we want to make sure that we're balancing freedom of expression and safety.”

Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management, said that the primary goal was to prevent harm, and that to a great extent, the company had been successful. But perfection, she said, is not possible.

“We have billions of posts every day, we're identifying more and more potential violations using our technical systems,” Ms. Bickert said. “At that scale, even if you're 99 percent accurate, you're going to have a lot of mistakes.”

The Rules

When is it support for terrorism? Is “martyr” a forbidden word? Moderators are given guides to help them decide.

The Facebook guidelines do not look like a handbook for regulating global politics. They consist of dozens of unorganized PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets with bureaucratic titles like “Western Balkans Hate Orgs and Figures” and “Credible Violence: Implementation standards.”

Because Facebook drifted into this approach somewhat by accident, there is no single master file or overarching guide, just a patchwork of rules set out by different parts of the company. Facebook confirmed the authenticity of the documents, though it said some had been updated since The Times acquired them.

The company's goal is ambitious: to reduce context-heavy questions that even legal experts might struggle with — when is an idea hateful, when is a rumor dangerous — to one-size-fits-all rules. By telling moderators to follow the rules blindly, Facebook hopes to guard against bias and to enforce consistency.

A slide from Facebook's rulebook on what constitutes hate speech asks moderators to quickly make a series of complex, legalistic judgments per post.
Facebook says the files are only for training, but moderators say they are used as day-to-day reference materials.

Taken individually, each rule might make sense. But in their byzantine totality, they can be a bit baffling.

One document sets out several rules just to determine when a word like “martyr” or “jihad” indicates pro-terrorism speech. Another describes when discussion of a barred group should be forbidden. Words like “brother” or “comrade” probably cross the line. So do any of a dozen emojis.

Facebook does not want its front-line moderators exercising independent judgment, so it gives them extensive guidance. These emojis, the platform says, could be considered threats or, in context with racial or religious groups, hate speech.

The guidelines for identifying hate speech, a problem that has bedeviled Facebook, run to 200 jargon-filled, head-spinning pages. Moderators must sort a post into one of three “tiers” of severity. They must bear in mind lists like the six “designated dehumanizing comparisons,” among them comparing Jews to rats.

“There's a real tension here between wanting to have nuances to account for every situation, and wanting to have a set of policies we can enforce accurately and we can explain cleanly,” said Ms. Bickert, the Facebook executive.

Though the Facebook employees who make the rules are largely free to set policy however they wish, and often do so in the room, they also consult with outside groups.

“We're not drawing these lines in a vacuum,” Ms. Bickert said.

An Unseen Branch of Government

In Pakistan, moderators were told to watch some parties and their supporters for prohibited speech.

As detailed as the guidelines can be, they are also approximations — best guesses at how to fight extremism or disinformation. And they are leading Facebook to intrude into sensitive political matters the world over, sometimes clumsily.

Increasingly, the decisions on what posts should be barred amount to regulating political speech — and not just on the fringes. In many countries, extremism and the mainstream are blurring.

In the United States, Facebook banned the Proud Boys, a far-right pro-Trump group. The company also blocked an inflammatory ad, about a caravan of Central American migrants, that was produced by President Trump's political team.

In June, according to internal emails reviewed by The Times, moderators were told to allow users to praise the Taliban — normally a forbidden practice — if they mentioned its decision to enter into a cease-fire. In another email, moderators were told to hunt down and remove rumors wrongly accusing an Israeli soldier of killing a Palestinian medic.

“Facebook's role has become so hegemonic, so monopolistic, that it has become a force unto itself,” said Jasmin Mujanovic, an expert on the Balkans. “No one entity, especially not a for-profit venture like Facebook, should have that kind of power to influence public debate and policy.”

In Pakistan, shortly before elections were held in July, Facebook issued its moderators a 40-page document outlining “political parties, expected trends and guidelines.”

Pakistan, one of the world's largest and most fragile democracies, enforces an Election Day blackout on campaigning. Facebook is a center of news and discussion during voting.

The document most likely shaped those conversations — even if Pakistanis themselves had no way of knowing it. Moderators were urged, in one instance, to apply extra scrutiny to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, a hard-line religious party. But another religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, was described as “benign.”

Though Facebook says its focus is protecting users, the documents suggest that other concerns come into play. Pakistan guidelines warn moderators against creating a “PR fire” by taking any action that could “have a negative impact on Facebook's reputation or even put the company at legal risk.”

In India, Chinmayi Arun, a legal scholar, identified troubling mistakes in Facebook's guidelines.

One slide tells moderators that any post degrading an entire religion violates Indian law and should be flagged for removal. It is a significant curb on speech — and apparently incorrect. Indian law prohibits blasphemy only in certain conditions, Ms. Arun said, such as when the speaker intends to inflame violence.

Facebook's rules for India and Pakistan both include this diagram explaining that the company removes some content to avoid risk of legal challenge or being blocked by governments.

Another slide says that Indian law prohibits calls for an independent Kashmir, which some legal scholars dispute. The slide instructs moderators to “look out for” the phrase “Free Kashmir” — though the slogan, common among activists, is completely legal.

Facebook says it is simply urging moderators to apply extra scrutiny to posts that use the phrase. Still, even this could chill activism in Kashmir. And it is not clear that the distinction will be obvious to moderators, who are warned that ignoring violations could get Facebook blocked in India.

‘Things Explode Really Fast'

In the absence of governments or international bodies that can set standards, Facebook is experimenting on its own.

The company never set out to play this role, but in an effort to control problems of its own creation, it has quietly become, with a speed that makes even employees uncomfortable, what is arguably one of the world's most powerful political regulators.

“A lot of this would be a lot easier if there were authoritative third parties that had the answer,” said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism expert who works with Facebook.

“Sometimes these things explode really fast,” Mr. Fishman said, “and we have to figure out what our reaction's going to be, and we don't have time for the U.N.”

But the results can be uneven.

Consider the guidelines for the Balkans, where rising nationalism is threatening to reignite old violence. The file on that region, not updated since 2016, includes odd errors. Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian war criminal still celebrated by extremists, is described as a fugitive. In fact, he was arrested in 2011.

A 2016 document on Western Balkan hate groups, still in use, incorrectly describes Ratko Mladic as a fugitive. Mr. Mladic was arrested in 2011. Though the error is minor, experts say it underscores an inattention to detail in Facebook's guidelines.

The slides are apparently written for English speakers relying on Google Translate, suggesting that Facebook remains short on moderators who speak local languages — and who might understand local contexts crucial for identifying inflammatory speech. And Google Translate can be unreliable: Mr. Mladic is referred to in one slide as “Rodney Young.”

The guidelines, said Mr. Mujanovic, the Balkans expert, appear dangerously out of date. They have little to say about ultranationalist groups stoking political violence in the region.

Nearly every Facebook employee who spoke to The Times cited, as proof of the company's competence, its response after the United Nations accused the platform of exacerbating genocide in Myanmar. The employees pointed to Facebook's ban this spring on any positive mention of Ma Ba Tha, an extremist group that has been using the platform to incite violence against Muslims since 201.

But puzzled activists in Myanmar say that, months later, posts supporting the group remain widespread.

The culprit may be Facebook's own rulebooks. Guidelines for policing hate speech in Myanmar instruct moderators not to remove posts supporting Ma Ba Tha. Facebook corrected the mistake only in response to an inquiry from The Times.

Several months after Facebook said it had banned praise for Ma Ba Tha, a Myanmar supremacist group accused of encouraging ethnic cleansing, the company's Myanmar guidelines stated that the group was allowed.

Employees also touted their decision to shut down Facebook accounts belonging to senior military officials in Myanmar.

But the company did not initially notify Myanmar's government, leading the barred officers to conclude that they had been hacked. Some blamed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's de facto civilian leader, and the episode deepened distrust between her and the military, lawmakers say.

The Hate List

Facebook's most politically consequential document may be an Excel spreadsheet that names every group and individual the company has quietly barred as a hate figure.

Facebook keeps an internal list of groups and individuals it bars as hate figures, though not all are on the fringe. Facebook users are prohibited from posting content that is deemed to support or praise them.

Moderators are instructed to remove any post praising, supporting or representing any listed figure.

Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert in far-right groups, said he was “confused about the methodology.” The company bans an impressive array of American and British groups, he said, but relatively few in countries where the far right can be more violent, particularly Russia or Ukraine.

Countries where Facebook faces government pressure seem to be better covered than those where it does not. Facebook blocks dozens of far-right groups in Germany, where the authorities scrutinize the social network, but only one in neighboring Austria.

The list includes a growing number of groups with one foot in the political mainstream, like the far-right Golden Dawn, which holds seats in the Greek and European Union parliaments.

For a tech company to draw these lines is “extremely problematic,” said Jonas Kaiser, a Harvard University expert on online extremism. “It puts social networks in the position to make judgment calls that are traditionally the job of the courts.”

The bans are a kind of shortcut, said Sana Jaffrey, who studies Indonesian politics at the University of Chicago. Asking moderators to look for a banned name or logo is easier than asking them to make judgment calls about when political views are dangerous.

But that means that in much of Asia and the Middle East, Facebook bans hard-line religious groups that represent significant segments of society. Blanket prohibitions, Ms. Jaffrey said, amount to Facebook shutting down one side in national debates.

And its decisions often skew in favor of governments, which can fine or regulate Facebook.

In Sri Lanka, Facebook removed posts commemorating members of the Tamil minority who died in the country's civil war. Facebook bans any positive mention of Tamil rebels, though users can praise government forces who were also guilty of atrocities.

Kate Cronin-Furman, a Sri Lanka expert at University College London, said this prevented Tamils from memorializing the war, allowing the government to impose its version of events — entrenching Tamils' second-class status.

The View From Menlo Park

Facebook's policies might emerge from well-appointed conference rooms, but they are executed largely by moderators in drab outsourcing offices in distant locations like Morocco and the Philippines.

Facebook says moderators are given ample time to review posts and don't have quotas. Moderators say they face pressure to review about a thousand pieces of content per day. They have eight to 10 seconds for each post, longer for videos.

The moderators describe feeling in over their heads. For some, pay is tied to speed and accuracy. Many last only a few exhausting months. Front-line moderators have few mechanisms for alerting Facebook to new threats or holes in the rules — and little incentive to try, one said.

One moderator described an officewide rule to approve any post if no one on hand can read the appropriate language. This may have contributed to violence in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, where posts encouraging ethnic cleansing were routinely allowed to stay up.

Facebook says that any such practice would violate its rules, which include contingencies for reviewing posts in unfamiliar languages. Justin Osofsky, a Facebook vice president who oversees these contracts, said any corner-cutting probably came from midlevel managers at outside companies acting on their own.

This hints at a deeper problem. Facebook has little visibility into the giant outsourcing companies, which largely police themselves, and has at times struggled to control them. And because Facebook relies on the companies to support its expansion, its leverage over them is limited.

One hurdle to reining in inflammatory speech on Facebook may be Facebook itself. The platform relies on an algorithm that tends to promote the most provocative content, sometimes of the sort the company says it wants to suppress.

Facebook could blunt that algorithm or slow the company's expansion into new markets, where it has proved most disruptive. But the social network instills in employees an almost unquestioned faith in their product as a force for good.

When Ms. Su, the News Feed engineer, was asked if she believed research finding that more Facebook usage correlates with more violence, she replied, “I don't think so.”

“As we have greater reach, as we have more people engaging, that raises the stakes,” she said. “But I also think that there's greater opportunity for people to be exposed to new ideas.”

Still, even some executives hesitate when asked whether the company has found the right formula.

Richard Allan, a London-based vice president who is also a sitting member of the House of Lords, said a better model might be “some partnership arrangement” with “government involved in setting the standards,” even if not all governments can be trusted with this power.

Mr. Fishman, the Facebook terrorism expert, said the company should consider deferring more decisions to moderators, who may better understand the nuances of local culture and politics.

But at company headquarters, the most fundamental questions of all remain unanswered: What sorts of content lead directly to violence? When does the platform exacerbate social tensions?

Rosa Birch, who leads an internal crisis team, said she and her colleagues had been posing these questions for years. They are making progress, she said, but will probably never have definitive answers.

But without a full understanding of the platform's impact, most policies are just ad hoc responses to problems as they emerge. Employees make a tweak, wait to see what happens, then tweak again — as if repairing an airplane midflight.

In the meantime, the company continues to expand its reach to more users in more countries.

“One of the reasons why it's hard to talk about,” Mr. Fishman said, “is because there is a lack of societal agreement on where this sort of authority should lie.”

But, he said, “it's harder to figure out what a better alternative is.”


6 key steps to improve police recruitment and retention At IACP 2018, Gordon Graham shared his top tips for how police leaders can attract the right candidates who will stay the distance Nov 1, 2018

As PoliceOne reported last year, if you could only attend one session at IACP's annual conference, it should be whichever class Gordon Graham, a 33-year CHP veteran and practicing attorney, is teaching. This year at the 125th annual International Association of Chiefs of Police conference, his focus was on police recruitment.

Getting and keeping good people is critical to the effectiveness of all law enforcement agencies. In many regions around the United States, the law enforcement applicant pool is small and competitive, so it is no surprise police leaders list recruitment and retention as the top challenge they face today.

In his session, Graham discussed why agency recruitment and retention is not just an HR responsibility, but requires the involvement of all members of the agency.

Here are key steps in the police recruitment process that can help law enforcement leaders attract the right candidates.


Every time the police recruitment pool dwindles into a puddle, said Graham, there is a tendency to lower standards to try to increase the size of the pool, but there is a price to pay for that downstream. Departments should research strategies that expand recruitment without lowering hiring standards.

“You do not have to lower standards to increase the size of the applicant pool,” said Graham. “I would make everyone a recruiter. While cops are on duty, as part of their job, they need to recruit. We meet great people every day. Grandma has her house burglarized, and her 20-year-old grandson is helping her on the scene, that is a potential recruit. If everyone could find one good women or man in their career, it would help departments keep up with attrition. If you found one a month, you'd increase your applicant pool by 12 times.”


It is no secret that departments don't necessarily assign their brightest and best cops to serve as recruitment officers. “'You screwed up every other job in our department, we will put you in recruitment', is not the right approach,” said Graham.

You need someone with both good communication and customer service skills who can walk candidates through what is often an overwhelmingly rigorous selection process.

Farming out the background investigation is also fraught with risk, said Graham, where investigators can be rude and aggressive, or even worse, there have been cases of investigators trying to pick up female candidates.


In this day and age, a company's website is its recruitment calling card, and that is just as true for law enforcement as any other profession. For many new recruits, the first step on their journey to becoming a police officer starts when they visit your agency's website.

“The kids coming on board today want to make sure they are going to make a difference,” said Graham. “Does your agency's website reflect the primary mission of public safety – the preservation of life? Does it have information on how employees in your department are making a difference in your community?”

Your website should feature a message from the chief that explains what your LE agency is all about, as well as your vision and value statement, notes Graham.

Do you have a section on your website dedicated to praising your employees? While many agencies have a citizen complaint form front and center on their website, consider posting a personnel commendation form to show your agency focuses on the positive difference LE makes in your community.


Compared to other professions, applying to become a police officer can be a long and arduous process. If recruitment takes so long that people leave to go to another agency, what can you do to shorten the process at your agency? Can you give people a preliminary job offer to keep them around while you do the background investigation?

“Regular contact with people is essential,” said Graham. “I see some very clever departments whose recruiters keep in contact every day with people via apps on smartphones. They talk to people on a regular basis to tell them the status of their background check and tell them what is going on.”


While you may find potential candidates at job fairs, the next generation of police officers can be found in many different places.

“Military bases are filled with great candidates, colleges are filled with great candidates, volunteer organizations are filled with great candidates,” notes Graham.

In addition, consider a candidate's life experience.

“Backgrounds today are much more complex than they used to be. The new generation has had different experiences. Many have never been in a physical confrontation so getting punched in the face is a foreign concept to them. In their mind, it might justify deadly force. Strive to hire people who know about life. A lot of people who know about life may have some criminal problems in their past. So what? Think it through. Find out the facts, not just the charge,” said Graham.


Recruitment is closely tied to retention. Once you attract the right people, you need strategies in place to keep them.

This means asking candidates, “Do you really know what you are getting into?” Folks need to understand that law enforcement is much different than what they see on TV or in the movies.

“What are you doing to build employee trust and pride in your organization?” asks Graham. “What options do personnel have in your department to advance or do something different? If employees think they are always going to be in patrol or working in the jail, they may choose to move on. Consider developing levels within positions where you can keep people, increase their pay, and keep their skills and abilities up to date.”


At the close of his session, Graham had one request for attendees: “Please do not lower standards, instead, revisit the way you recruit. Revisit the hiring process, the background investigation process, the academy process, the FTO process and the evaluation process, all with the goal of getting and keeping good people


The point of policing It can be a struggle for today's police leaders to connect officers with their mission as they field questions like, “Does anyone care?”Dec 4, 2018

by Chief Janie Schutz, P1 Contributor

Maintaining officer morale is critical to the success of every law enforcement agency, yet it can be a struggle for today's police leaders to connect officers with their mission as they field questions like, “Is anybody watching?” and “Does anyone care?”


Thirty years ago, I came to law enforcement convinced most people are instilled with a deep sense of goodness. As a police officer, my task is to serve those good people and keep them safe. In fact, the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics begins with the following:

“As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality, and justice.”

As a police chief, my number one goal is to have my officers understand that every person we come across in our work – and we come across all kinds – is worthy of our service, our guardianship and our respect. Recent events though, in cities and towns across our nation, have probably caused many of us, both police and citizens alike, to wonder what in the world is going wrong in America.

How do tragedies like the Aurora, Newtown, Las Vegas and Parkland shootings happen?

Have police let the American public down?

Have we not been vigilant enough in our oath to the public?

My answer is a resounding “NO!”


There is no doubt that police need to continue to grow and understand their individual communities, but the people that make up “our America” need to understand their own responsibilities to each other in keeping their communities safe.

In a democracy, effective police are reliant on citizen cooperation at a minimum and citizen partnerships at best. Citizen partnerships can be everything from individual vigilance to neighborhood watches. There is no better example of a citizen's diligence than when a man in Watertown, Massachusetts, saw blood on the tarp of his boat several years ago and quickly reported this to the police. His vigilance led to the arrest of the second Boston bombing suspect. A member of the community made the conscious decision to get involved and a great thing happened.


To develop and nurture partnerships with the community, police leaders need to:

Embrace change: When police leaders embrace change, partners – both inside and outside of the department – will share information relevant to collaboration without hesitation.

Make the effort: The business of policing shouldn't be just about successes or failures, but rather about the effort you put into assisting your community in becoming a safer place to live.

Remember your mission: Enthusiasm is contagious. Don't ever forget why you became a cop, as it most often began with the desire to want to help those who can't help themselves. This is where our inner strength and perseverance comes from.

So the next time one of your patrol officers asks, “Is anybody watching?” or “Does anyone care?” remind them that our children are watching, our neighbors are watching, our leaders are watching. Our entire community cares. Citizens look to us for our service, our guardianship and our respect. And when we as police officers come together to provide these things, we can say that we watched, we cared. And that's the point of policing.



Taliban Attacks in Northern Afghanistan Kill 27 Security Officers

by Najim Rahim and Fahim Abed

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — At least 27 members of security forces in northern Afghanistan were killed by the Taliban in a series of coordinated attacks on Tuesday, officials said, and dozens of others were wounded.

The deadliest violence took place in Sar-i-Pul Province, where the Taliban attacked Afghan security forces in three areas, killing a total of 21 people, officials said. The officials did not provide a breakdown of casualties.

Zabihullah Amani, the spokesman for the governor of Sar-i-Pul, said the Taliban had simultaneously attacked the center of Sayad District, security outposts along the highway linking Sar-i-Pul with Jowzjan, and a village with oil wells.

“It was a very strong attack,” Mr. Amani said. “Two security outposts were captured by the Taliban; 25 members of security forces were also wounded during the clashes.”

The Taliban's main goal, he said, was to take control of the oil wells in the village of Qashqari. They did not succeed, he added.

Insurgents attacked the center of Sayad from three directions, said Hayatullah Sayadi, the district governor, killing seven local police officers and wounding eight others.

Reinforcements, including the police and intelligence chiefs of the province, were called in to help, but they too were ambushed by the Taliban. It was not clear if there were any casualties in the subsequent ambush.

Separately, in the northern province of Balkh, the Taliban struck a security outpost in the Chemtal District, killing six police officers and wounding seven others, said Rahmatullah Khan, a local police commander. “The Taliban seized all weapons and equipment in the outpost,” he said.

Last month, President Trump announced that he had ordered half of the 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan home, even as the 17-year war continues to rage and the Taliban threaten much of the country.

For many in the Afghan leadership, the news of the withdrawal was a betrayal. The timing is likely to complicate the American push for peace talks with the Taliban, which require maintaining pressure on the battlefield.

After a series of meetings recently between American diplomats and the Taliban in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, talks between the Americans, the Taliban, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates officials and Pakistan are set to take place in Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks.

The Taliban refused to sit down with the Afghan delegation at earlier meetings held in Moscow and the United Arabic Emirates, however, and they have said that they will not meet with the Afghan delegation in Saudi Arabia either.

While it remains unclear if the recent meetings will result in negotiations that include Afghan officials, they do appear to have contributed to the Taliban's growing public outreach efforts in the region: The Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, confirmed on Tuesday that a delegation from the group had visited Tehran on Monday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and possible paths to peace and security in the region



The Impolite Realities of Observing Police Abuse

I stepped outside of work to get a slice of pizza — and ended up embroiled in an all-too-common case of aggressive policing.

by Talmon Joseph Smith

Most of the time, I witness police misconduct like many other Americans: secondhand. Scrolling through my news feed, a video pops up showing an appalling instance of officer behavior that was captured by a concerned onlooker. It has become an eerie hallmark of our time: the use of smartphone recordings as a limited yet meaningful deterrent against police abuse, or at least police impunity.

But a couple of Fridays ago, on the evening of Dec. 7, I found myself, for the first time, in the role of alarmed eyewitness filming police overreach.

On a break from work, I crossed the intersection of 40th and 8th Avenue in Manhattan and, through a jungle of midtown noise and limbs, saw a group of police officers pushing an African-American man outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal. I couldn't tell how the squabble started, but the man repeatedly called out: “Somebody tape me. Tape me, please.”

He didn't resist as handcuffs were placed on his wrists, but the officer leading the pack kept shoving him against a wall. My hands shaking from a mix of adrenaline and December cold, I took out my phone and began to record the scene, along with another bystander or two.

Port Authority Police officers approached those of us filming and told us not to interfere. The other person next to me filming, a young-looking Latino man wearing a beanie hat, kept his distance, but loudly protested.

“I got the right to record all I want,” he shouted. “I don't have to step off the sidewalk. Freedom of speech.” He then called the officers “pigs,” lacing his taunts with profanity.

When I asked a nearby police officer his name and what prompted the clamor, he threatened me with arrest for blocking the sidewalk, at which point I identified myself as a New York Times journalist just trying to observe.

The officers' focus then turned toward the Latino man in the beanie, who continued to trade barbs with the five or so officers slowly surrounding him. He swiveled from side to side, waving his phone in a panoramic motion, its lens now serving as his shield.

I walked off toward the spot where the black man was detained to ask others if they'd seen what started the commotion. Within moments, I heard the clang of a body hitting the metal barricades behind me.

The Latino man in the beanie was pinned to the ground by four officers, one of them crushing the man's neck and head into the concrete while another gave him quick blows to the side, as yet another cuffed him and a fourth twisted his leg.

“All right, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, man — just let me go home, please,” the man pleaded.

“Little late,” one of the officers said, tightening the cuffs.

A plainclothes officer approached me and pushed away my phone. “Sir, you want to go to jail?” he threatened. “Stop recording.”

This time, I stopped. When asked why the man in the beanie had been arrested, the officer limply offered, “Disorderly conduct.”

With the sinking feeling that his response was most likely the first step in an attempt by the police to cover for themselves, I returned to work and began to do a little digging.

The man in the beanie was Jairo Tejada Espinosa. He was charged with obstructing government administration, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer, which is a felony, among other charges. (The black man we both filmed was booked on a harassment charge, a violation usually punished with a fine.) Mr. Espinosa, 33, was taken to Bellevue Hospital for injuries sustained during his arrest.

In response to my inquiries, the Port Authority said through its press office that the matter had been referred to the agency's independent Office of the Inspector General. “We hold our officers to the highest standards,” the statement says. “And any conduct that would require disciplinary action will be addressed following the conclusion of the investigation.”

The investigators may want to begin with a close examination of the police's official account, as written in a criminal complaint to the court. The police claim that Mr. Espinosa “resisted arrest in that he manipulated his arms and hands to avoid handcuffing, continuously flailed his legs, and laid down on the ground” — a characterization that seems exaggerated at best. (Surveillance cameras on the corner, to which the Port Authority has access, should provide useful information for investigators.)

The police also wrote in their official complaint that Mr. Espinosa, while in custody on the way to the hospital, “repeatedly kicked” an officer, hurting his hand. Mr. Espinosa is contesting all the charges and has declined to plead guilty to reduced non-felony charges.

Mr. Espinosa's public defender, Rebecca Phipps, informed the Manhattan district attorney's office that the Port Authority inspector general had begun an investigation. He was released on Dec. 13; his next court date is Feb. 5.

Citing privacy concerns, Ms. Phipps would not provide me with any further personal information about Mr. Espinosa. The facility commander of the Port Authority Police declined to comment in response to inquiries about Mr. Espinosa's initial felony-assault charge.

After I briefed him on the details of the case, Scott Hechinger, a senior staff attorney and director of policy at Brooklyn Defender Services, expressed skepticism about the police account, while cautioning that each case is different. “These are the quintessential allegations police make against someone who has been the victim of excessive force,” he said.

While the truth of what happened on the way to Bellevue Hospital may end up a matter of Mr. Espinosa's word versus that of the Port Authority police officers, the police's less than forthright characterization of Mr. Espinosa's arrest suggests this incident may be yet another case of excessive force by New York City public safety officers.

A few weeks ago, police officers forced an incarcerated Bronx woman to remain handcuffed while giving birth. And this month, a video posted on Facebook showed Jazmine Headley sitting on the floor of a Brooklyn food-stamp office while authorities pried her 1-year-old from her arms following an argument over Ms. Headley's sitting on the floor. Her charges, which included resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration, were dropped following widespread public outrage after the video went viral.

Mr. Espinosa may be a less sympathetic character than the young mother. But his original offense — using obscene language — is a violation typically punished with a ticket and a fine, not an elbow to the face.

As I dug into his case, I found myself fighting the idea that maybe I was making too big a deal out of what I saw. After all, I thought, Mr. Espinosa didn't suffer life-altering or life-ending injuries.

But that thinking is a problem at the root of our criminal justice system: Little fuss is made when people without access to the levers of power are robbed of their dignity, rights or freedoms.

The First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill winding through Congress that aims to roll back the excesses of tough-on-crime laws, deserves the polite plaudits it's receiving. But if passed, it still can't temper the attitude problem in policing, the insecurities of hot-blooded, poorly trained police officers whose first instinct, far too often, is escalation and force.

For insulting an officer, Mr. Espinosa was beaten, cuffed, dragged in public and taken to the hospital, then locked up for several days because of felony-level bail too expensive for him.

(I've seen white men I grew up with in the South and Northeast do much worse in the presence of the police without reprimand, and I've heard college students of color at protests on elite college campuses call officers equally harsh names to their faces without being tackled.)

The impolite reality is that stories like this explain why frustrated residents in many communities see the police as an occupying force. This shows what a growing cross-section of Americans in both political parties mean when they speak of a two-tiered justice system. This is why the police, in neighborhoods and editorial pages across the country, often don't get the respect they demand — or the trust they feel they deserve.



Florida's ‘Stand Your Ground' Law Applies to Police, Too, Court Rules

by Frances Robles

Police officers in Florida can avail themselves of the state's “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law, the State Supreme Court ruled Thursday, offering broader immunity to law enforcement officers in a decision that could make it harder to hold police criminally responsible in disputed shootings.

The court said in its ruling that police officers have the same rights as other Florida citizens who win immunity from prosecution under the law.

“It's a landmark, ground-marking case,” said Eric Schwartzreich, a lawyer for a sheriff's deputy involved in the fatal shooting of an African-American man, who successfully argued that police officers should not be excluded from the law's protections. “It's the first time Stand Your Ground is used in the state of Florida in reference to police. The implications are wide-ranging.”

Legal analysts said the ruling would allow police officers in some cases to avoid jury trials in controversial shootings in which officers believed they were acting in self-defense but might have had other options.

The case before the court stemmed from the 2013 killing of a mentally ill computer engineer who was walking down a street in Oakland Park, north of Fort Lauderdale. The man, Jermaine McBean, 33, had an air rifle slung across his shoulders. As he walked into the apartment complex where he lived, screaming to himself, witnesses called the police.

Three Broward County sheriff's deputies responded and called for Mr. McBean to drop his weapon. But Mr. McBean, who the investigation showed was listening to music with earbuds, apparently did not hear them. Peter A. Peraza, the deputy charged in the case, claimed that Mr. McBean had turned and pointed the weapon at the officers, in the vicinity of children in a swimming pool, so he fired three shots, killing him.

Witnesses said Mr. McBean never pointed the weapon, and the two other officers did not fire their weapons. Two years later, after a New York Times examination of the case, Mr. Peraza was indicted, becoming the first law enforcement officer to be charged in an on-duty killing in Florida in decades.

In court, Mr. Peraza asked for Stand Your Ground protection. He won, but the state appealed.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the ruling, but because the decision conflicted with a prior appellate ruling, the case went to the Florida Supreme Court.

In that earlier case, in 2012, the Second District Court of Appeal had rejected an officer's attempt to use the law to avoid trial for stomping on a 63-year-old man. The officer, Juan Caamano, a former police officer in Haines City, south of Orlando, instead went to trial, but was acquitted.

Last year, two Miami police officers successfully invoked Stand Your Ground immunity when they were sued for damages in the beating of a man in a wheelchair.

The 2005 law eliminates a person's duty to retreat from a dangerous situation and frees them to use deadly force “if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary” to prevent harm or death. It shields people from both criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits. The determination is made by a judge after a hearing, and allows the accused to skip a jury trial altogether.

Stand Your Ground became widely known in 2012, when the police in Sanford, Fla., cited it as the reason that they declined to arrest George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who killed an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin. Critics say the law makes it too easy to claim self-defense when violence could have been avoided, and, according to some analyses, has skewed in favor of white defendants as applied in Florida.

The key to the case before the Supreme Court was language in the Florida law specifying that it applies to “any person.”

In some previous cases in Florida, courts have ruled that police officers have their own immunity law that protects them from criminal charges in justified shootings.

But the Supreme Court in its ruling said the language of the law makes it applicable to all.

“Put simply, a law enforcement officer is a ‘person' whether on duty or off,” the court said.

The court held that law enforcement officers “are eligible to assert Stand Your Ground immunity, even when the use of force occurred in the course of making a lawful arrest,” and are immune from criminal prosecution when the facts warrant it.

Mr. Schwartzreich said the court's opinion meant that officers could “do their job without fear of indictment or arrest.”

Critics of the law said the decision could be considered a free pass for police officers involved in questionable shootings, and worried that it could disproportionately affect African-Americans and Hispanics. Mr. McBean was black, and Mr. Peraza is Hispanic.

“Police officers already have full immunity to kill us at will. This is an extra bonus on top of that,” said Tifanny Burks, a Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward activist who has been working with Mr. McBean's family. “It really is a slap in the face — a blatant one at that.”

David I. Schoen, who is representing Mr. McBean's family in a federal civil rights lawsuit, said the ruling was particularly troubling because it placed too much decision-making power on elected local judges, who often depended on support from police unions to win elections. Invoking Stand Your Ground, Mr. Schoen said, meant a jury in many cases would never get a chance to hear disputed evidence.

“Every unscrupulous law enforcement officer in Florida who kills a civilian now in suspicious circumstances will say he feared for his life, and even with eyewitnesses saying otherwise, he walks and can't be arrested or charged or brought to trial after this decision,” Mr. Schoen said. “It's an injustice, it really is.”


New Orleans

When Policing and Privacy Intersect

A camera operated by the New Orleans Police Department above Bourbon Street. The police superintendent calls the cameras a “crime-fighting tool,” not surveillance.

by Katy Reckdahl

NEW ORLEANS — It's not the type of crime that typically ends in arrest: a murder in a parking garage after a suspected drug deal. But a camera from the New Orleans Police Department's $40 million camera system caught high-definition images of the probable killer.

The department disseminated clear images and made an arrest within a few days, Michael S. Harrison, the New Orleans police superintendent, told the privacy expert Julia Angwin in a panel discussion on the future of policing.

“That's how we are able to go to surviving victims or families of victims and tell them, ‘Yes, justice is served,'” Superintendent Harrison told Ms. Angwin.

Ms. Angwin, an editor at The Markup, a news site focused on technology's societal impact, conceded that “everyone is going to be surveilled,” but raised concerns about civil liberties and the use of cameras and their oversight. Superintendent Harrison, who is usually reserved, was uncharacteristically enthusiastic about his force's new tool. “Any sheriff or law enforcement executive who does not have this is living in the Dark Ages and working far behind the times.”

Superintendent Harrison said the city's 300 cameras were placed on public poles on public streets and that staff members from the city's Real Time Crime Monitoring Center tapped into the cameras' live feed only when prompted by a 911 call reporting crime in a one-mile radius. He calls it a “crime-fighting tool,” not surveillance.

Michael S. Harrison, right, the New Orleans police superintendent, in a panel discussion last week at the Cities for Tomorrow conference with the privacy expert Julia Angwin, center, and Rebecca Blumenstein, left, a deputy managing editor of The New York Times.

Michael S. Harrison, right, the New Orleans police superintendent, in a panel discussion last week at the Cities for Tomorrow conference with the privacy expert Julia Angwin, center, and Rebecca Blumenstein, left, a deputy managing editor of The New York Times.CreditMike Cohen for The New York Times.

He says that residents and businesses were now able to buy their own cameras, and that they could opt into use by the center with hopes of using images to capture not only gunmen but also petty criminals who deal drugs or dump trash illegally. “Who doesn't want to identify the murderer?” Ms. Angwin asked. “But what about the protester, the dumper?”

Research conducted in surveillance-heavy European cities shows that such cameras don't deter crime, she said. “It often displaces crime, so it can move it to another area of the city, and can help in solving crimes.” Superintendent Harrison nodded. During the year that the cameras have been active, he's already seen violent-crime hot spots shift. “I would agree that it doesn't always deter crime, but sometimes displaces it,” he said.

Superintendent Harrison said that because the New Orleans Police Department was under a federal consent decree, his staff had been working with the decree's monitor to create and carry out policies that ensured that camera images could be uploaded only to a secure police-evidence cloud, not downloaded by an operator. The decree very specifically limits monitoring to local officials and precludes sharing surveillance with immigration officials, he said; federal law enforcement partners have to request access for specific crimes that have been committed.

To start, the images can be viewed only from a computer screen in the monitoring center when police dispatchers receive a 911 call, he said. “And then we're monitoring the people who are monitoring to make that sure they're not abusing that.”

“What you're describing, of how it turns on once there's an incident, is actually something we know already in policing — it's called ‘the probable-cause standard, right?'” Ms. Angwin said. “But what is the civilian oversight or the judicial oversight to make sure that's really true?”

Also, Ms. Angwin asked, did everyone in New Orleans know how to deal with images generated by the camera system? “We have a clear system in the offline world,” she said. Probable cause is clearly defined in court, for instance. “And we know what happens afterward: how to challenge that warrant in court.”

Dealing with legal matters generated from online images is much more murky, she said. “This is a situation where it's totally outside of those rules, right? And so I think what we face as a society is building that set of rules.



After the police shot and killed Alex Andrich, on June 12, a police spokesman offered this explanation:

Mr. Andrich had advanced on an officer while holding an “object” that the officer “believed was a threat.” It turned out to be the handcuffs that officers had just affixed to one of his wrists.

After an officer shot Edward Brown, leaving him a paraplegic, the police said it was self-defense: Mr. Brown had charged at an officer and tried to get his gun, even touching the barrel. But none of Mr. Brown's D.N.A. was found on the weapon, and he had been shot in the back.

After Mohammed Muyhamin, a schizophrenic 43-year-old, died during an arrest, the police told local news outlets that he had “assaulted” an employee at a community center where he had sought to use the bathroom. But the 128-page police report obtained by The Times described an argument over whether Mr. Muyhamin could bring his small service dog inside without a leash.

The assault described in the report was an allegation that he had “pushed past” the employee because he needed to get to the restroom.

David Chami, a lawyer for Mr. Muhaymin's estate and eldest son, said at least one officer on the scene had previously interacted with his client and knew he had mental health problems. Officers decided to take him in on an existing warrant for drug paraphernalia, he said, forcing him to the ground as he resisted and struggled.

Mohammed Muhaymin died during an arrest.

“I can't breathe!” Mr. Muhaymin, whose post-mortem showed he was on methamphetamines, screamed. A witness cited in the medical examiner report said that one of the officers replied: “Then stop resisting."



City of Edmonton launches public survey in effort to improve rave safety

by Slav Kornik

Three people were taken to hospital after attending the Get Together EDM party at Edmonton's Shaw Conference Centre on Thursday.

The City of Edmonton is asking for the public's input on electronic dance music (EDM) parties a week after several people were taken to hospital and several more were arrested at an event.

The city has launched a week-long online survey that it says will be used to help take steps toward improving safety at large-scale EDM events in Edmonton.

Last Thursday, three people were taken to hospital — two in serious condition — from an EDM concert at the Shaw Conference Centre, while several other people were arrested on drug-related charges.

Edmonton hosts 1st rave since proposed ban on raves voted down Report calling for moratorium on Edmonton raves draws comparison with ‘Footloose' ‘Immediate moratorium' on raves recommended to Edmonton City Council.

Edmonton police said there were eight drug-related arrests at the concert, called Get Together. Officers also seized 400 MDMA pills and “a quantity of cocaine” in connection with the arrests, police said.

Police confirmed a 20-year-old man was charged with seven drug-related offences, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.

“Edmonton Police Service, together with Alberta Health Services (EMS) and the City of Edmonton, sits on the EDM Internal Working Committee and works with event organizers to improve the safety of electronic dance music events in our city,” police said.

The Shaw Conference Centre said the two-day event was provided with an emergency physician, three registered nurse practitioners, two paramedics, five emergency medical technicians and five emergency medical responders.

In October, six people were taken to hospital, some in life-threatening condition, after attending an electronic dance music party at the World Waterpark at West Edmonton Mall.

The city said the online survey is part of the efforts made by the EDM Internal Working Committee.

“We have been talking to the industry and other experts to fully understand potential public safety risks associated with large-scale EDM events and find ways to make the events safer,” City of Edmonton spokesperson Lori Yanish said.

“We need views from all parties so the survey reaches out to concertgoers, artists/DJs, staff and volunteers who attend EDM events and asks for their anonymous views and perspectives.”

Yanish said the survey is part of the committee's research, which will be presented to city council in March and will include recommendations.

Earlier this year, a city committee voted against a proposed moratorium on electronic dance parties, or raves, in Edmonton.

A city report had recommended a ban on raves, noting that electronic music parties are linked with “widespread consumption of drugs” and “drug-facilitated sexual assaults” that tie up emergency services.

The proposed ban on raves was dismissed by some councillors because it could lead to a loss of income or jobs while others believed such a ban would drive the events underground, making them more dangerous.

Yanish said she is not sure if the working committee's recommendations will include banning EDM events.

“The decision rests with city council, and I won't speculate on what they may decide in the end,” Yanish said.

“It's fair to say that in their discussions last June, they seemed to indicate an interest in finding a solution that will keep the events going but in a safer way. But they will need to feel confident that the approach they ultimately approve will keep people safe.”



Assessing School Safety After MSD Public Safety Commission Report

by Emily Lang

The initial Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission report which was sent to the Governor's office this week recommends enforcing active shooter drills in school –Code Red drills–, hardening schools and arming teachers. WLRN reporter Caitie Switalski joins Intersection along with security consultant Zach Hudson and Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma to explain what's in the report and what it means for schools across the state.

“I think advocates of hardening schools instead of gun control are very happy with this report,” says Switalski.

Code Red drills are required by state law, but many schools don't have a written policy on drills.

“I think when you talk about responsibility, it should fall on everyone who's on site,” says Hudson.

“It shouldn't fall on one single officer.”

The investigation analyzed the response time and actions of school staff and Broward County Sheriff's deputies during the Parkland shooting.

“The policy seems rather obvious. The good guys have to engage the bad guys as quickly as possible,” says Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma.

“Reading the report, we weren't surprised with any of the recommendations that came out of the report at all, and quite frankly, after Columbine, and these recent active shooter and active killer situations, it's kind of a shift that we made a long time ago,” he says.

Lemma says the Seminole County sheriff's office and school district are improving the way they conduct drills after miscommunication about a recent ‘code red' drill at Lake Brantley High School that led some students and parents to believe there was an actual shooting.

“We've redesigned our drills to make sure there's no confusion about the active threat assessment,” says Lemma.



Public Safety: New laws provide more transparency

Public Records Act requests will allow for deeper understanding of law enforcement

by Rachel Rosenbaum

This weekly column is a catch-all for public safety topics including legislation, court cases and other important topics to keep in mind.

If there is something you think we should include, or if you have questions you would like us to pose to law enforcement officials,

The most important tool for a journalist is information.

Yes, that's obvious and perhaps a bit cliché. But we don't print rumors or hearsay – we rely on official sources and documentation to tell stories that are important to the community.

Getting access to that information is necessary. We put officials on-the-record for accountability, we make Public Records Act requests for documents like emails, settlements and search warrants to try to find the bigger picture of stories that need to be told. And the great part is that public record requests are not restricted to journalists – members of the public have the right to request information and hold accountable the officials who serve them.

The 2018 elections brought some sweeping changes and additions to the freedom of information front. Here's a look at what laws go into effect in 2019 (courtesy of the California News Publishers Association):

Senate Bill 1421

Effective Jan. 1, the bill grants access to police officer personnel records and the investigations conducted by law enforcement agencies into their employees, which has been shielded for 40 years. It requires three categories of disclosure: when a police officer discharges a firearm or causes a person great bodily injury; when there has been a substantiated charge against an officer of sexual assault; or a serious case of dishonesty, like perjury.

Assembly Bill 748

The bill amends existing state government code (investigatory records exemption) to require the disclosure of video or audio footage related to critical incidents. It will require the disclosure of dash and body camera footage, along with 911 calls and any other audio or video related to the incident, and right to access footage after 45 days from the incident (with a possible 30-day extension). After one year, the agency can only withhold the record if there is clear and convincing evidence that disclosure would be harmful to an important public interest. It goes into effect July 1, 2019.

Senate Bill 978

This new law requires police agencies to post all of their current standards, policies, practices, operating procedures, and education and training materials that would otherwise be available to the public if a request was made pursuant to the California Public Records Act.

Senate Bill 820

This new law, effective Jan. 1, bans settlement agreements that require an individual to suppress facts about sexual assault, harassment or discrimination. Employers who settle cases will not be able to demand confidentiality from an employee. However, as a protection for an individual who wishes to remain anonymous, a claimant can require confidentiality. This subdivision does not apply if a government agency or public official is a party to the agreement.

Senate Bill 1244

This new law changes the term “plaintiff” in the California Public Records Act mandatory fee-shifting provision to “requester.” It also declares that nothing in the fee-shifting provision can be construed to limit a requester's right to obtain fees and costs pursuant to subdivision (d) or pursuant to any other law. Together, the changes to the CPRA protect requesters who defend the public's right to know, regardless of the requester's technical title in litigation.



Public safety poster aims to combat human trafficking

The Missouri Department of Public Safety released a poster to provide information to assist human trafficking victims and raise awareness of the crime. The poster must be displayed in Missouri airports, train stations, bus depots and certain types of businesses across the state beginning March 1.

The poster is headlined “Stop human trafficking” and includes the toll-free hotline of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which can be reached at (888) 3737-888.

“Human trafficking is the exploitation of vulnerable people that can include kidnapping, forced labor, and commercial sexual exploitation, and it happens in Missouri, just as it does in other states” Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said. “We hope these posters not only help lead human trafficking victims to assistance, but help spread awareness about this terrible crime that affects people across our country.”

The poster is available on the DPS website, Businesses that are not able to print the poster can use the website to order up to four copies to be mailed to their address. Additionally, all Missouri State Highway Patrol troop headquarters have copies at their reception desks. A list of troop locations is available at

Legislation requiring DPS to deliver the human trafficking awareness message in both English and Spanish in the same poster was the first legislation to pass through the Missouri General Assembly during the 2018 session. DPS is utilizing a federal Victims of Crime Act grant administered by the Missouri Department of Social Services to pay for printing and mailing costs.

As part of the Department of Public Safety's effort to combat human trafficking, since June, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has conducted specialized training in all nine troops across the state. The Interdiction for the Protection of Children training is conducted over 16 hours and concentrates on identifying signs during a traffic stop that a child might be in danger. A total of 307 troopers have completed training. Since being trained, troopers have initiated 22 investigations.



Federal security force dispatched to stop wave of violence in Brazil's Ceara state


A wave of violence that has swept across the state of Ceara in the last three days has led Brazil's newly appointed Minister of Justice Sergio Moro to immediately send 300 National Public Security Force officers to the region.

The federal force, which assists states in public security emergencies, is authorized to stay in the northeastern state for 30 days, where it would work with local police in containing the violence.

Dozens of attacks have taken place since Wednesday night in the state capital of Fortaleza and in towns across Ceara. Shots have been fired at buildings and banks, buses have been lighted on fire, homemade explosives have been thrown at police stations, and a bomb placed inside the column of a viaduct has left it close to collapse.

Motives for the attacks, which began the day after the inauguration of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, were not yet clear. But authorities suspect drug gangs are responsible.

According to a statement from Gov. Camilo Santana, 45 people have been arrested in connection with the violence. Santana also announced the immediate appointment of 373 new military police officers and 220 new prison guards, who were previously expected to begin work in March.

The governor said he spoke with Moro and Minister of Defense Gen. Fernando Azevedo, who offered the full support of their ministries in containing the violence.

“This is a moment for the union of all forces to guarantee order and the protection of all the brothers and sisters of Ceara,” Santana said.

Moro — who as a judge oversaw several high-profile cases in Brazil's wide-reaching Lavo Jato, or Car Wash, corruption scandals, including that of jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — had initially denied Santana's request for help, saying Thursday night that additional support would be sent only if the public security situation deteriorated.

In a statement Friday, the Ministry of Justice did an about-face and said the security officers were being sent to Ceara due to “the difficulty local forces had in combating organized crime alone.”

“The seriousness of the facts, the need to maintain public safety and the duty of the federal and state police forces to protect the civilian population, as well as public and private patrimony, from new incidents were also considered,” the statement continued.

The federal government's move to help Ceara came within days after the swearing-in of Bolsonaro, a longtime right-wing congressman who campaigned on a promise to crack down on crime, a key issue for many voters in October's election. Bolsonaro, a former army captain, has said that hewill loosen gun laws so that citizens can protect themselves from criminals and that he would shield public safety officers from prosecution for the use of excessive force.

Brazil has seen its homicide rate skyrocket in recent years as rival drug gangs fight for territory in a country that borders the three biggest cocaine-producing nations in the world and is a main exit point for drugs smuggled to Europe and Asia.

Data from the independent research organization Brazilian Public Security Forum show that Brazil registered 63,880 homicides in 2017, the highest one-year total ever recorded in the nation and an increase of 3% over the previous year. Ceara, located along one of the country's main drug smuggling routes, has the third highest homicide rate in Brazil, at 59.1 killings for every 100,000 residents.

According to the Igarape Institute, a think tank focusing on security issues, just 10% of homicides in Brazil lead to arrests.



WORLD: Call to arm teachers after US school massacre

Arm teachers, spend more on school security and mental health and train police to be more aggressive when responding to school shootings.

Those are some of the recommendations in a report into the deadliest US high school shooting released this week.

The 485-page report into the Parkland, Florida, school massacre that left 14 students and three adults dead at the hands of a lone gunman in February last year, will be studied by Florida Governor Rick Scott, governor-elect Ron DeSantis and a state commission charged with finding ways to prevent another school shooting massacre.

The report, by the state-appointed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, finds a cascade of errors from law enforcement officers holding back as shots were fired and lax school security that allowed a former student with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle access to the campus.

The Parkland shooting has sparked a national debate about school security, gun rights, and fuelled a student-led movement calling for more gun control, called Never Again MSD, after the school's initials.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the school safety commission, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel there needed to be a sense of urgency in implementing change in school security.

“When you send your kids to school in the morning, there's an expectation they're going to come home alive in the afternoon,” Gualtieri told the newspaper.

He also said he strongly supported the idea of arming some gun-trained teachers.

But not everyone on the 16-member commission agreed with all of its findings.

Commission member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed at Stoneman Douglas, told the Sun Sentinel that she opposed the idea of arming teachers.

“Teachers want to teach,” she told the newspaper. “That's their expertise. Law enforcement their expertise is supposed to be to engage the threat.”

The report was critical of a perceived slow response from law enforcement officers who waited outside the school buildings while shots were still being fired.

Other recommendations included more funding for mental health services for students, creating safe areas at schools where students can hide from a potential gunman, locking school perimeter gates while school is in session and requiring law enforcement officers to immediately seek out a shooter instead of hanging back.

The report acknowledges that more money is needed to implement the recommendations.



The world is actually becoming a better place – and this is the data to prove it

For all the doom and gloom, globalisation has spread untold prosperity to previously impoverished corners of the earth

by Julius Probst

Swedish academic Hans Rosling has identified a worrying trend: not only do many people across advanced economies have no idea that the world is becoming a much better place, but they actually even think the opposite. This is no wonder, when the news focuses on reporting catastrophes, terrorist attacks, wars and famines.

Who wants to hear about the fact that every day some 200,000 people around the world are lifted above the US$2-a-day poverty line? Or that more than 300,000 people a day get access to electricity and clean water for the first time every day? These stories of people in low-income countries simply doesn't make for exciting news coverage. But, as Rosling pointed out in his book Factfulness, it's important to put all the bad news in perspective.

While it is true that globalisation has put some downward pressure on middle-class wages in advanced economies in recent decades, it has also helped lift hundreds of millions of people above the global poverty line – a development that has mostly occurred in South-East Asia.

The recent rise of populism that has swept across Western countries, with Trump, Brexit, and the election of populists in Hungary and Italy, among various other factors, is thus of great concern if we care about global welfare. Globalisation is the only way forward to ensure that economic prosperity is shared among all countries and not only a select few advanced economies.

While some people glorify the past, one of the big facts of economic history is that until quite recently a significant part of the world population has lived under quite miserable conditions – and this has been true throughout most of human history. The following seven charts show how the world has become a much better place compared to just a few decades.

Labour MPs call for multi-billion pound "globalisation fund"

1. Life expectancy continues to rise

Even during the Industrial Revolution, average life expectancy across European countries did not exceed around 35 years. This does not imply that most people died in their late 30s or even 40s, since it was mostly very high levels of child mortality rates that pulled down the average. Women dying in childbirth was obviously a big problem too. So were some common diseases such as smallpox and the plague, for example, which now have been completely eradicated in high-income countries.

2. Child mortality continues to fall

More than a century ago, child mortality rates were still exceeding 10 per cent – even in high-income countries such as the US and the UK. But thanks to modern medicine, and better public safety in general, this number has been reduced to almost zero in rich countries.

Plus, developing economies like India and Brazil now have much lower child mortality rates today than advanced economies had at similar income levels about one century ago.

3. Fertility rates are falling

Even though many are concerned about the global population explosion, the fact is that fertility rates have fallen significantly across the globe. UN population estimates largely expect the global population to stabilise at about 11 billion by the end of this century.

Moreover, as can be seen from the chart, many developing countries such as Brazil, China and a number of African nations have already switched to a low-fertility regime. While this transition took many advanced economies almost 100 years, starting with the Industrial Revolution, many others have since achieved this over just two to three decades.

4. GDP growth has accelerated in developed countries

Technological leaders, the US and Western Europe, have been growing at about 2 per cent per year, on average, for the past 150 years. This means that real income levels roughly double every 36 years.

While there were many long-lasting ups and downs, like the Great Depression or the recent Great Recession, the constancy of the long-run growth rate is actually quite miraculous. Low-income countries, including China and India, have been growing at a significantly faster pace in recent decades and are quickly catching up to the west. A 10 per cent growth rate over a prolonged period means that income levels double roughly every seven years. It is obviously good news if prosperity is more shared across the globe.

5. Global income inequality has gone down

While inequality within countries has gone up as a result of globalisation, global inequality has been on a steady downward trend for several decades. This is mostly a result of developing countries such as China and India where hundreds of millions of people have seen their living standards improve. In fact, for the first time ever since the Industrial Revolution, about half of the global population can be considered middle class.

6. More people are living in democracies

Throughout most of human history people lived under oppressive non-democratic regimes. As of today, about half of the human population is living in a democracy. Out of those still living in autocracies, 90 per cent are in China. While the country has recently moved in the other direction, there is reason to believe that continued economic development might eventually lead to democratisation (according to modernisation theory).

7. Conflicts are on the decline

Throughout history, the world has been riven by conflict. In fact, at least two of the world's largest powers have been at war with each other more than 50 per cent of the time since about 1500.

While the early 20th century was especially brutal with two world wars in rapid succession, the postwar period has been very peaceful. For the first time ever, there has been no war or conflict in Western Europe in about three generations, and international organisations including the EU and the UN have led to a more stable world.



The year of school safety, or lack thereof

Several horrific shootings and efforts to improve campus safety dominated headlines in 2018

by Leigh Jones

Almost everything in education news this year paled in comparison to the two mass-casualty shootings that claimed 27 lives. School safety dominated headlines from February until the November midterms. But with little agreement on school safety solutions, the news cycle ground on to other things. Here are this year's top five stories in education.
School shootings and safety

On Feb. 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. He killed 17 students and staff in the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history. But Cruz's carnage was only the beginning of the deadly violence that rocked American schools this year. In May, a 17-year-old student killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. Intentional shootings at 10 other schools claimed another six lives and injured 20 others. Police across the country thwarted several attempted attacks, including one on Dec. 13.

The shootings, especially in Parkland, renewed the debate over school safety and gun control and propelled a small group of student activists into the national spotlight. The debate over how to prevent future shootings seems likely to dominate headlines next year. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will issue its final report Jan. 1. But some of its pre-reporting recommendations have stirred controversy. On Dec. 12 the group voted almost unanimously to recommend Florida allow vetted and properly trained teachers to carry concealed handguns on campus. —L.J.

Teachers win, unions lose

In late February, teachers in West Virginia went on strike. They rallied at the state Capitol for nine days and persuaded legislators to give them a 5 percent raise. Their surprise success emboldened teachers in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Arizona to organize their own strikes, prompting the biggest wave of teacher activism in decades. Union activists hailed the protests, and teachers did gain some ground in pay and classroom funding.

But the unions' celebration didn't last long. Despite predictions that teacher activism would have a big effect on the 2018 midterms, that education wave never materialized. They did help flip statehouses in Wisconsin and Kansas to Democrats. But education advocates in states that saw the most teacher-related activism didn't enjoy significant ballot victories. In the Oklahoma gubernatorial election, Republican Kevin Stitt defeated Democrat Drew Edmondson, who promised to raise taxes to increase teacher pay. Teachers unions also failed to oust Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican who became a foil for activist teachers during that state's strikes. And Colorado voters rejected a referendum that would have raised an estimated $1.6 billion for education. —L.J.

No longer welcome on campus

Harvard University announced in February it would no longer allow campus Christian groups to “discriminate” by holding to biblical beliefs about marriage and sexuality. The Ivy League school's decision raised fears of a widespread, faith-based purge at private universities. That didn't materialize, but several public schools decided to challenge Christian groups' freedom of religion.

The first case originated at the University of Iowa, where administrators sanctioned Business Leaders in Christ over its faith-based leadership requirements. A federal judge ordered the school to reverse course, noting it didn't equally enforce its nondiscrimination policy against Muslim groups. Religious liberty advocates hailed that ruling, but it didn't stop other schools from trying a similar approach. A few weeks after the Harvard situation made headlines, Wayne State University kicked its chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship off campus. The school relented after religious liberty law firm Becket filed suit. But in November, apologetics group Ratio Christi filed suit against the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, for denying it official status over its leadership requirements. —L.J.

Homeschoolers prevail in oversight challenges

Homeschoolers scored two significant wins this year in state-level challenges to their autonomy. In January, police in California discovered one of the worst cases of child abuse in years. David and Louise Turpin had held their 12 children in near complete isolation—under the guise of homeschooling. California lawmakers quickly filed a bill that would have required homeschooling parents to get teaching credentials. It also would have mandated local fire officials inspect all registered homeschools at least once a year. After homeschoolers lobbied against it, the bill's sponsor dropped it.

A month later, hundreds of homeschoolers rallied at the state Capitol to argue against another bill that would have required state officials to collect and make public a list of families that educate their children at home. After listening to three hours of testimony, lawmakers abandoned the proposal. Several months earlier, homeschooling families in Hawaii also scored an improbable victory against a bill that would have required homeschool parents to pass background checks. That bill's sponsor shelved the measure after listening to hours of testimony. —L.J.

Title IX fight

The debate over Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' Title IX policy rewrite regarding sexual assault investigations at schools dragged on all year. But the fight has only just begun. Now that the proposed changes are final, opponents are flooding the Education Department with comments. In the first two weeks of the 60-day comment period, 45,000 people submitted feedback.

The policy changes have supporters, but opponents definitely have the momentum. Women (as the most likely potential victims of sexual assault) are viewed as the underdogs now that the government is trying to scale back Obama-era measures designed to make it easier for them to pursue assault claims. But recent polls show Americans fear the potential for false accusations. One survey found 57 percent of respondents had an equal share of concern for men facing false accusations and women facing possible assaults. DeVos says she wants to protect women while also upholding the due process rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Democrats preparing to take over the House in January don't see it that way. Expect to see DeVos called into numerous contentious committee hearings in the first few months of the new year. —L.J.